Thinking in Unity after Postmodernism – Figures of Unity, Presence, and Transcendence at the Millennium


International Workshop at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, 12-13 November 2010


Dates: 12-13 Nov 2010

Organization: PD Dr. Raoul Eshelman, Irina Hron M.A.

Conference Languages: English and German

Deadline for Proposals: 15 April 2010


In the last 15 years in the humanities a situation has arisen that is often rather wistfully called “the end of theory” or “after theory.” This refers to the fact that the (post)structuralist theories developed by Lacan, Derrida, Foucault, Barthes, and Deleuze are slowly being exhausted without having found successors of equal weight. The dominant theoretical direction in the liberal arts is that of post-colonial studies, which hybridize existing poststructuralist theories but lack the potential to develop essentially new positions. Aside from these hybridizing strategies a number of theories have arisen in the last few years that differ markedly from poststructuralism by virtue of their focus on figures of unity and closure. The standard-bearers of this new thinking in unity include Jean-Luc Marion’s phenomenology, Peter Sloterdijk’s theory of “foams,” and the Generative Anthropology of Eric Gans. In contradistinction to poststructuralism, these theories are all based on figures of unity, of positively understood identity, of closure, and of presence.      


The goal of the workshop is to establish these and similar theories of unity as successors to poststructuralism and to use them to analyze literature, film, drama and other media before and after the millennium (1990-2010).


Papers must not refer explicitly or systematically to the three theories mentioned, but they should touch upon at least one of the following topics:


-          Figures of unity and closure: How do closed, unified spaces, signs, and subjects arise?

-          Figures of presence: How is a feeling of presence created semiotically, spatially, and temporally?

-          Figures of transcendence: Which modes of boundary transgression can be said to overcome borders rather than simply to violate them? What higher orders of value are created in doing so?

-          Figures of love: What possibilities of reconciliation and emotional unity are made available to subjects? How are the ludic heterogeneity and superficiality of gender discourses compensated for through unified relations of mutual bonding?

-          Figures of plenitude: How are closed, unified spaces filled out with value and meaning? How can we describe effects of saturation and of overflowing proceeding from such spaces?


Figures of reduction and consolidation: How is unity created through reduction, simplification, and consolidation? What is gained and lost in the process?

Figures of belief:  How do unified, steadfast relations of trust to others arise? What ethical positions can be derived from them?



The workshop is directed explicitly at younger scholars (doctoral candidates and postdocs) who are interested in interrogating innovative new approaches and actively participating in the development of cutting-edge theory.   


The workshop is funded by the Graduate Center of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. Travel expenses will be reimbursed as fully as possible. A publication of selected papers presented at the conference is planned.


Please send an abstract of no longer than 500 words along with a short CV by 15 April 2010 to [log in to unmask]


Contributors will be informed whether their abstracts have been accepted by 15 May 2010.



PD Dr. Raoul Eshelman: [log in to unmask]

Irina Hron M.A.: [log in to unmask]

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Fakultät für Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaften, Department II
Institut für Slavische Philologie, Raum E 302
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
80539 München


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